The APP World Tour of paddle boarding returned to London for the third time on Saturday as American Connor Baxter won the men’s sprint race and compatriot April Zilg won the women’s event. Competitors battled it out in 250m sprints under sunny skies at Docklands Sailing & Watersports Center and world champion Baxter swept through the heats to reach the final where he edged Japan’s Rai Taguchi to extend his overall lead.
Zilg held off Spain’s Esperenza Barreras for her second consecutive victory while Denmark’s Caroline Kuntzel came third. Paddleboarding involves participants standing on a board propelling themselves forward with a paddle – also known as stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) – and has grown in popularity in recent years.
The sport evolved from surfing in Hawaii in the 1960s, with sprint and paddle surfing having been part of APP’s World Tour since 2012. APP World Tour is working with the International Surfing Federation to make paddle boarding a Olympic event following the sport’s debut at the Pan American Games in Lima three years ago.
The London SUP Open ends on Sunday with a 15.5km race on the River Thames before the athletes travel to Busan, South Korea next week for the third stop of the season.
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